We are directing the Board of Regents to develop a policy, just as there is in so many states. It’s just a matter of recognizing the ability for chancellors and campuses to administer and manage their operations.Don't believe it. If I know Scott Walker, he has already made it clear to the board members he appoints what they will have to do to keep their jobs, and that is remove all obstacles to reforming the university along the lines of an economic engine and career nursery.
Because, see, conservatives have a problem with universities, which is that although they are bastions of leftism they are also economically and socially vital. They prepare the people of the state for lucrative careers, and their research drives technological change. Plus their football and basketball teams have huge followings of voters. So every conservative governor wonders, how can I keep the things about universities I want while restraining or getting rid of leftists who use their state-sponsored jobs to attack me? Walker's approach has two parts, limiting tenure and limiting the control of professors over what and how they teach:
Along with tenure, “shared governance” has been a central feature of academic life in universities generally, giving faculty members the primary responsibility for decisions about matters like curriculum, choice of subject matter, instructional methods, faculty status and research. Under the proposed changes in Wisconsin, faculty members would still advise leaders on academic and educational activities, and on personnel matters, but that advice would be “subordinate” to the powers of the board, president and chancellors.In China the government calls this “seizing control of the lectern.”
American professors need to wake up. The cozy arrangements they have long enjoyed -- tenure, limited teaching loads, salaries protected from the free market, freedom to teach what and how they want -- are disappearing. So far this has largely happened by increased hiring of adjuncts, and the shrinking number of tenured professorships have remained plum jobs. That is going to change, too. Except at a handful of wealthy private schools, professors are going to lose autonomy, earn less, and be subject to rigorous goal-oriented management focused on how many students they train and how much funding they bring in. Departments that don't measure up are already disappearing, and this is going to accelerate.
All of these changes are happening because the professors have lost the support of the voters. Well, actually they may never have had the support of the voters, but they had the support of a big swathe of the elite, including many conservative politicians. That is changing. Your populist, Tea Party-allied Republican sees nothing good in English or Anthropology departments, and doesn't see why he should vote money to support them. Even most Democratic voters don't care, so they pay no political price for whacking away at academia.
Over the long term, the conditions and pay of professors are going to decline until there are no longer people willing to take the jobs. That's how the free market works for people who lack political and institutional power. If professors want the university as they know it to survive, they need to convince the voters that it is worth paying for, and that their work is vital to university life.